Paleo and veganism have given birth to peganism. But is this new diet any good for you?
By Carrie Dennett, The Washington Post
February 4, 2019
Dennett is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Nutrition by Carrie.
While Americans are still in varying states of awareness about the keto, paleo and Whole 30 diets, along comes another new eating regimen, labeled “pegan.” This hybrid of “paleo” and “vegan” was introduced in a 2014 blog post by physician and author Mark Hyman. After Hyman included the pegan diet in his February 2018 diet book, “Food: What the Heck Should I Eat” in February 2018, searches related to the pegan diet spiked, landing it on a number of trend lists for 2019.
While the pegan diet is more moderate—and potentially easier to follow—than either of its dietary parents, it does restrict many nutritious foods for reasons that aren’t quite supported by science. Here are the pros and cons.
The pros: Lots of plants and healthy fats
The pegan diet is at its core a plant-based diet, which research shows is good for personal and planetary health. If you want to go pegan, plan to shop for a variety of deeply colored fruits and vegetables — they’ll make up about 75 percent of your diet. That’s definitely one of the diet’s selling points, says registered dietitian Wesley Delbridge, a spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Most Americans aren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables,” he says, adding that upping produce also increases fiber intake, helping us get the 25 to 35 grams we need daily. “That has many health benefits, including heart health and reduction of cancer, especially colon cancer.”
Chicago-based registered dietitian Christine Fitzgerald likes the diet’s plant-based focus. “I do think that we’re not eating enough plants, fruits and vegetable and getting the fiber in,” she says. “I think for people who like the plant-based way of eating, but feel overwhelmed and can’t completely commit to a plant-based diet, this gives them some options.”
However, she’s concerned that the pegan diet limits fruits to low-glycemic berries, because, it claims, other types of fruit spike blood sugar. “What if you don’t like berries? We can do other things to reduce the impact on blood sugar, like pairing fruit with protein,” she says.
The diet also emphasizes fatty fish and flaxseed — sources of omega-3, another dietary element Delbridge says Americans don’t get enough of, as well as nuts, avocados, olives and associated oils, which provide healthy unsaturated fats. The diet also allows some saturated fat from grass-fed or sustainably raised meat...
The mixed bag: Protein, processed food and affordability ...
The cons: Going against the grains and dairy ...
The bottom line ...